Jayson Werth has made a decision and will continue to call the “National League East” home in 2010. He remains in the Mid-Atlantic area and he did not opt to sign with the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles or the Boston Red Sox – as was originally expected. Surprisingly Jayson Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, have agreed to a 7-year, $126 million contract with the WASHINGTON NATIONALS! This news comes Sunday, according to multiple reports. The Nationals will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. in Orlando, where the winter meetings begin Monday. Werth did not attend. The Nationals said they will have further details about when Werth would be formally introduced in Washington. These details will likely come over the course of the Winter meetings.
So, Werth’s return to Philadelphia will be as a member of the Washington Nationals. As if this was not enough of a blow to the Phillies organization, the corollary to Werth’s defection is that his signing will NOT garner the Phillies a compensatory first-round pick. Despite Werth being a Type A free agent, the top 15 overall picks are protected. The Nationals hold the sixth pick. The Phillies will instead receive a second-round pick and a further compensatory pick – usually a “sandwich pick” between first and second rounds.
The Nationals and Werth’s agent, Scott Boras, had a brief press conference in Orlando. Here are some of the comments:
Nationals senior VP and GM Mike Rizzo: It’s a big day for the Washington Nationals. We’re very proud to announce signing Jayson Werth to a contract. He will be the centerpiece of our ballclub on the field and in the clubhouse. It kind of exemplifies Phase 2 of the Washington Nationals process. Phase 1 was the scouting and player development and farm system program we feel we are well underway. Now is the time to go to the second phase and really compete for divisional titles and championships. We feel with a player of Jayson Werth’s ilk, a two-way player, guy who excels offensively and defensively and baserunning and exhibits five tools… that is the type of player we’re looking for. We’re just pleased and so proud that the Lerner family has allowed me the resources to go out and to get Jayson. We think he is going to be a big piece of the puzzle. We certainly have more holes to fill, we have more work to do, and we are certainly aggressively going forward from here and beyond.
Boras: Ted Lerner and Mark Lerner came out to visit Jayson in our offices in California and really mapped out what they expected from Jayson Werth as far as he takes a new step in his career. And the dynamic was to certainly be involved with the raising of young players in the organization, and certainly from our pursuit, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg being new additions to the franchise for Jayson, his experience in Philadelphia and learning from many great players there and advancing his career, that he would certainly come into the locker room, display a winning attitude and provide the Nationals with something that he learned in his major league career. For Jayson, this was a decision where he certainly wanted to know that this was a place that not only was going to take every step possible to sign young players and draft that they have exhibited, but also take steps to develop a core system in the minor leagues, and also take further steps in advancing the free agent process that he would be surrounded by quality major leagues players in addition to those already present in the Nationals organization.
Rizzo on the relationship between Werth and Nationals manager Jim Riggelman: … It played a great role in the signing of Jayson. We got the inside scoop on who the man is and who the person is, which always helps. Jim is a great judge of character and clubhouse presence. He was flowery in his praise for Jayson on and off the field. He feels like I feel, that Jayson’s best days haven’t been had yet. We feel this is a player who had a slower start as a major league player and is going to improve his skills in his future time in the big leagues.
Rizzo on where Werth will play: As of today, I think we have him penciled to hit in the middle of the lineup to play right field, but we’re certainly early in the offseason and things can change from there, but he has the skills and the skill set to play multiple positions in the outfield.
Rizzo on his background with Werth [He said he scouted Werth when Werth was a high school player in Springield, Ill.]: I’ve been a big fan of his lineage and his family… This is a guy we’ve known for a long time. I’ve had my eye on him for quite a long time and a lot of people accuse me of the day that he ended the game against Storin was the day he became on the radar, but he was on the radar way before that. Rizzo played with Dick Schofield – Werth’s uncle – in the minors with the Angels.
What does this mean for the Phillies?
It is very likely that the Phillies will simply attempt to sign a second-tier free agent such as Matt Diaz, Scott Hairston, Jeff Francoeur or any of the other righthanded OF bats available. Diaz is a career .335 hitter against left-handed pitching, who made $2.55 million in 2010. Other free agent names bandied about include Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero and Paul Konerko, but it is unlikely that the Phillies would offer a lot of money for any of these players. If they were to spend money, it is likely they would have offered Jayson Werth more than the 3-year $55 million deal which was rejected.
Unless the team decides to open their checkbook and offer that same 3-year $55 million deal to someone like Carl Carwford or Magglio Ordonez, it is very likely that they will move forward with a possible double platoon situation in the outfield. Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry would share LF while Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown would patrol RF, making Shane Victorino the only everyday outfielder in center. With the likes of Pete Orr, Brandon Moss and returning veteran Ross Gload filling out the bench, signing additional role players may not be prudent. It still does not answer the question of who would hit behind Ryan Howard should the roster not change.
Perhaps the Phillies will refocus that funding on shoring up their pitching situation gunning for the likes of free agent starters to add to their Big Three of Cy Young Award winner Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Candidates for the rotation could include Fausto Carmona, Jake Peavy, Carl Pavano or Erik Bedard. Less expensive options include Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, Justin Duchsherer, Jeff Francis, Dana Eveland, Rich Harden, John Maine, Scott Olsen and Ben Sheets not to mention former Phils Kris Benson or Kevin Milwood.
Bullpen help is also a priority especially portsiders like Hisanori Takahashi, Brian Fuentes or Pedro Feliciano. Rumor still has it that management would ideally like to find a way to deal Joe Blanton to acquire a more “everyday” outfielder. Kyle Kendrick or Vance Worley would fill the fifth starter’s role and save the club $8 million per year over Blanton but takers are hard to find. Names like Carlos Quentin, Andre Ethier, Ryan Ludwick and Jason Kubel have been mentioned as targets but no firm offers with any of their teams have been made public as yet. The Winter Meetings will accelerate all of these conversations and should shake loose a few deals from a very fertile tree.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org